4 Things Every Leader Needs to Know About Emotional Intelligence

4 Things Every Leader Needs to Know About Emotional Intelligence

Most people think that success in business is directly related to one’s intelligence, and in many ways most people are right. The real question become, what exactly what type of intelligence are we talking about? In fact several studies seem to indicate that those with average intelligence will nearly always outperform those with high IQ’s – as much as 70% of the time. That shouldn’t be, but it is. And the reasons why may surprise you.

It’s long been known that A students will almost always end up working for B or C students. The reasons for this phenomena are many, not least of which is the fact that we may be thinking about intelligence in a very wrong way. This is also where the idea of Emotional Intelligence comes into play.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to monitor one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.[1] There are four primary issues that every business leader needs to know about Emotional Intelligence to help them improve their leadership abilities.

EQ is Not Related to IQ

Emotional Quotient (EQ) basically measures a person’s ability to recognize and manage emotions in themselves and those around them – the measurement of Emotional Intelligence. Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a measurement of how well a person can assimilate information and apply the assimilated information in a meaningful way. One can have a very high IQ and a low EQ, in fact there is no direct correlation between EQ and IQ. Just because you have an off the chart IQ does not automatically mean you have the EQ for success.

Emotional Intelligence is Not Related to Personality

While there may be some indications that certain personality types find it easier to raise their EQ and thus have more emotional intelligence, this does not indicate a direct correlation between personality type and emotional intelligence. In fact, as we’ll see in a moment it’s more that possible for anyone, with any personality type, to raise their EQ.

Emotional Intelligence is Associated with Performance

One area where we do see a direct correlation between emotional intelligence (and it’s measure EQ) and something else is in the area of performance. Emotional intelligence is as important to a person’s ability to perform tasks well as both IQ and Personality. In fact emotional intelligence has a huge impact on a person’s ability to focus energy and increase their personal performance. According to an article in Forbes “emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs[2].” So it follows that if you want to have increased success the best way to accomplish it is to increase your emotional intelligence and your EQ.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Learned

Unlike Intelligence Quotient and personality type – two indicators that science agrees are difficult, to increase – your Emotional Quotient can be raised. That’s right, you can learn how to increase your emotional intelligence. Since your brain exhibits what researches call plasticity you can actually change the way your brain understands and reacts to emotions. The science of what happens when you learn and develop your emotional intelligence is complex, but we can boil it down to a simple idea. You need to for a neurological connection between your rational brain and your limbic system (that part of your brain that is responsible for your emotions). At first you have to consciously make these connections between emotions and rational thought. The good news is that, over time, your brain will begin to make these connections automatically.

[1] Coleman, Andrew (2008). A Dictionary of Psychology (3 ed.). Oxford University Press.

[2] Emotional Intelligence – EQ. Travis Bradberry. Forbes. 9 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 March 2015.

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